A drink with attitude
Since it's discovery in the mid 7th century coffee has been a social drink, but nowhere in the world is coffee more widely used and socialized than in the Southern United States. In the South it is considered bad manners not offer ones visitors a cup of coffee. Coffee is never out of season, in the hottest Southern summers (even in a draught) to the coldest winters, coffee is almost always offered to any visitors of homes in the south. In the fall and winter, especially around the holiday season coffee is a must. But did you know that coffee was also used to send strong messages in Southern Culture?
If one had and unwanted guest, arrive at their home, let's say a nosy neighbor, an unpopular family member, in law or a snoopy government man. The true Southern Belle, lady of the house if you will, would not withhold the expected cup of black adrenaline, no, that would make her a poor hostess and never let it be said that a true lady was a bad hostess. No Sir, instead these women had a surefire method to let these nar do wells that they were not welcome and it would be best if they left and did not return, she would simply pour her guest a heaping cup of "cold coffee". Once he or she put their lips to the cup the message was received immediately. A look of embarrassment usually followed by a polite "Well I'd better be going" shortly thereafter was voiced as they quickly took there leave. There were however some hard cases such as salesmen, Government men and politicians who would be bold or gullible enough to bring to their hostess attention that their coffee was cold, " Why Mrs. Smith this coffee is cold." To which the usual reply was mixed with a curt smile "So it is Sir, So it is" as she gently blew the steam rising from her hot cup of coffee towards them. Because of the tremendous impact that the cold coffee message carried with it, it was used only in extreme circumstance and even then seldom if ever in mixed company, to be served cold coffee, while at a large gathering was the ultimate insult because as soon as the message was delivered everyone in the room knew what had happened.Because of the strength of the message it was usually only necessary to administer the "cold coffee" treatment once for that person to get the idea that they were no longer welcomed there. I am not sure just when the "cold coffee" message began I do know that in southern Mississippi it was used up to the middle of the twentieth Century. I have actually heard the women in my mother's circle of friends comment " I gave her cold coffee, I won't be bothered with her again," when referring to some unwanted guest or pest if you will. The cold shoulder couldn't hold a candle to "Cold Coffee, no pun intended. I can't help but laugh though at how times and attitudes have changed, each time I indulge in my one vice a tall cup of vanilla "ice coffee", it's hard to believe that we now willingly pay $3.00 a cup for something that was once considered the ultimate insult.